South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
December 9th, 1890
My Beloved Angee,
We left Pietermaritzburg yesterday morning and I enjoyed the Bible time spent there which was also a great cheer to the brother and his wife residing there. Three are breaking bread. I made four so it was small meeting. Mr & Mrs Jones being without any children are the more free for the Lord's work and they are very devoted and intelligent in it He has a situation in a large store and what struck me me as being so happy about their work was this, that they have found an open door into the houses of many godly people in the town connected with the various systems who appear well pleased to receive their visits and the truth they bring. Some 30 or 40 of these came to the little room too for readings and the gospel and the Lord gave us a real time of blessing and we had a meeting every night somewhere so that I was kept at it. Once we visited a house about 2 miles in the country and it was much appreciated by the family and friends who were present at the reading. How often have I thought that if we had only held the truth of God in communion with Him, remembering all his poor scattered flock how He might have helped them instead of hindering them I told our brother Jones and his wife Thalia had not seen anything in South Africa that had cheered my heart more than what I saw at Maritzburg and warned him against ever desiring to make P.B.'s of the people or seeking to press them to act on the truth of the One Body. "Lead the flock of God" is a fine word for this as on any other day.
The country between this and P'Maritzburg is very fertile – the plains – hill and valleys are all green – there are no hedges here to divide into fields. There is no part of South Africa that I have seen that can compare with Natal the scenery is something grand. We see the Zulus in all their native beauty at the various stations – the Government compel them to wrap a cloth around their naked bodies when they come into a town, but all the clothing a kaffir woman wears is a narrow band worked with beads around her waist with a gown as they call it suspended in the part of their bodies, also studded with various coloured beads. The entire size of the gown is not larger than one quarter of this page I am writing upon. Their arms and legs, heads, neck are profusely decorated with beads. I have often noticed on African travels how the travellers carry large quantities of beads for purchasing or for presents, but this gives you very little idea of the enormous quantity used until you see some of the Arab and Indian shops have with their windows filled with them. One farm at P'Maritzburg told me that when they first went into this business they ordered a ton and thought they were doing wonders in the way of quantity – their last shipment of beads from Venice where they are made was 75 tons. This is only a few to one house. Lazarus was telling me that he had some conversation with a Zulu at the Hotel at P'Maritzburg and was speaking about Jesus being the True God and all who believed in Him would go to heaven – the Kaffir replied that he did not want to go to heaven with God – he would rather go down where Satan was as he loved Satan. So far as I can judge the missionary work among them is not of the same character as the work in China and but few, very few I fear, of the ministers among the sects go much beyond getting them baptised and attending church or chapel. It is quite amusing to see the men and boys among them always carrying two sticks which they are trained to use. They are for defence and the other for fighting. You never see a Kaffir Zulu without these two sticks. When they meet one another they shake hands as we do and the women kiss each other first on each cheek then the mouth. They only eat twice a day mornings and evenings and their food is mainly what is called Mealies or ground Indian corn that our Osurego[?] biscuits are made of.
We are now in the wet season and storms are almost of daily occurrence but this keeps the temperature low which is a great comfort. We know nothing at home of the fierce storms that are common here – every house has a lightning conductor attached to it.
Tomorrow morning we leave early for Newcastle where I expect to secure this week's English mail and from there shall have two days coaching to Johannesburg – I hope it may be fine or I shall not care much for it I fear. I am not quite as young as I was. You said in your last how much you would like to see me sitting down in my old chair – I assure you most sincerely your wish is small compared with mine.
Mr & Mrs Jones gave me the name of a gentleman they thought was living here in one of the Banks – a believer and known to Dr Glennie and Captain Bagshaw. I soon found him last night – he is the manager of the Standard Bank and seems a nice simple Christian. This morning he came into my bedroom shanty and we had a long conversation and I found his friends were from near Whitstable and he was living there at the time of the Ramsgate division and went out with Mr Burbidge and the Abbott's Hill people. His name is Birch and his mother owned the room the brethren used to have at Faversham – the old chapel and I have often heard Patching speak of her. He had often been Patching's to Tea and was much pleased at my showing him Mr & Mrs Patching's photo – he said that divisions were sorrowful events and I felt ashamed to tell him that we had just had another. He has promised to come for a little reading this evening. It is singular how I meet one and another in this way. Trust this will find you in good health and your cheerful little companions still with you to whom you must give my kind love. Father's warmest love to dear Arundel and Harry and Emma and kisses for all the dear children once more. God continue His gracious care over you and multiply His grace mercy and peace to you my dearly beloved Angee. "If God be for us, who can be against is" - always a precious word but never more so than amid the wreck all around us today. With much love to you and all our dear friends believe me.
Your very affectionate Husband